Not only does IKEA provide the opportunity to eat Swedish meatballs and pretend you live in an immaculately designed Scandinavian home, you can soon recycle used mattresses and box springs at global home furnishings store. This new national program is part of IKEA’s People and Planet Positive Sustainability strategy that was launched in October 2012. It shows a commitment to make mattresses easier for consumers to recycle.

Each year, an estimated 15 to 20 million mattresses and box springs are disposed of in the U.S., according to the Mattress Recycling Council. Each day, 50,000 mattresses end up in landfills or are illegally dumped. Due to their size, mattresses take up lots of valuable landfill space and are difficult to compress.

Filling the Gap in Mattress Recycling

In many regions, it is cheaper for companies to recycle mattresses than to send them to a landfill. Despite mattress recycling laws in California, Connecticut and Rhode Island, it is difficult to recycle mattresses in many states. This is why an announcement from a large retailer like IKEA is especially good news.

Don’t live near an IKEA? Use our recycling search to find a mattress recycler near you.

The Swedish retailer was founded in 1943 and has 44 U.S. stores and 392 locations globally. It will soon take back old mattresses of any brand when it delivers new ones and will recycle mattresses returned to U.S. stores. IKEA plans to charge $25 per mattress, except in California where mattress recycling is free to consumers by law. The company may run promotions where mattress recycling is offered free of charge to shoppers that are part of IKEA’s loyalty program.

Advancing IKEA’s Sustainability Initiatives

IKEA’s sustainability strategy involves turning waste into resources and protecting forests, farmlands, seas and rivers. It includes a goal of zero waste to landfill whenever possible, and the mattress recycling initiative is a leap in the right direction.

“In keeping with our People and Planet Positive Sustainability strategy, IKEA has decided to take a lead in turning waste into resources,” said Lisa Davis, IKEA’s U.S. Sustainability Manager. “We are committed to securing recycled materials while ensuring key parts of our range are easily recycled — all contributing to a closed-loop society.”

Keeping Resources Out of Landfills

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Up to 95 percent of a mattress or box spring can be recycled. They are composed primarily of steel, foam, cotton, wood and a topper. Steel springs can be recycled into tools, auto parts and construction materials, while the wood is repurposed into flooring, biofuels and other wood products. The fibers can be used to make oil filters, mats, insulation, and pillow and furniture upholstery stuffing, and the quilt scrap can be repurposed to make carpet padding.

In addition to freeing up landfill space, recycling mattresses reduces the use of virgin materials, lessening the need to mine and cultivate raw materials. IKEA is seizing an opportunity to increase the prevalence of recycled materials, which helps prevent rising raw material costs.

“Recycling rates have increased around the world, but the majority of valuable processed materials are still thrown away rather than reused, leaving room for significant improvements and opportunities,” according to the IKEA Group Sustainability Strategy for 2020. “Rising energy and raw material costs are putting pressure on businesses and families across the world. By 2030, almost half of the world’s population will live in water-scarce areas. When it comes to the IKEA business, unless we act boldly, price increases for energy, wood, textiles, metals and plastics will affect our costs and force price increases for our customers.”

This isn’t IKEA’s only corporate social responsibility initiative impacting the bedroom. It is also launching 5,000 Dreams, a campaign dedicated to helping refugee families that are relocating to IKEA store communities. The program donates bed and bedding and works in conjunction with three refugee organizations.

Feature image courtesy of Adobe

By Sarah Lozanova

Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.